Claire Cole is the first person in the world to give consent to participate in phase-three of a trial to test the safety and efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.
Cole, head of research delivery at Manchester University, is one of 6,000 volunteers in the UK and 30,000 worldwide who are being recruited for the study, which will take place at 17 National Institute for Health Research sites in the UK, including one in Manchester.
“Although I have worked in health research for a number of years, I never cease to be amazed by the life-changing, and sometimes lifesaving, impact research can have,” Ms Cole said.
“This has never been truer than during the Covid-19 pandemic, where I have seen first-hand how rapidly clinical research can be translated into treatments for our patients.”
Ms Cole added: "I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of taking part in research and am honoured to be the first person in the world to be recruited to the study, and one of the first to receive the vaccine, as part of this vitally important coronavirus vaccine trial."
Recruitment into the study will end in March 2021, with the trial lasting for 12 months. It is the third vaccine to enter large-scale clinical trials in the UK, and volunteers are to be injected with an experimental Covid vaccine modelled on an Ebola jab.
Meanwhile, researchers are urging more volunteers to come forward ahead of other stage-three phases of trials starting in the next six months across the UK.
Frontline workers and volunteers from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are being particularly encouraged to take part.
Tim Felton, clinical lead for all Covid-19 research at MFT and the principal investigator at MFT for the Janssen phase-three study, said: “Throughout all the research we have undertaken into Covid-19 at MFT, finding a safe and effective vaccine has been the top priority.”
Mr Felton added that delivering the first dose of a vaccine in the phase-three trial is an essential step forward in tackling coronavirus.
“It is critical that we explore a range of vaccination options to give us the greatest chance of protecting as many people as possible.
"To ensure we know that the vaccines are safe and effective we need thousands of people to sign-up to the vaccines registry and take part in research,” Mr Felton said.
So far, around 25,000 people across the UK have participated in vaccine trials, while more than 310,000 have shown willingness to participate in clinical studies by signing up to the NHS vaccine research registry.
Kate Bingham, chairwoman of the government's vaccine taskforce, said: "The recent news about progress on the search for a vaccine is enormously exciting for the whole world, but we must not take our focus off continuing the important research to work out which vaccines work best for different people to provide long-lasting, effective protection against Covid-19.
"Many vaccines are needed both here in the UK and globally, to ensure we can provide a safe and effective vaccine for the whole population,” she added.
"That's why the launch of this trial to establish the safety, effectiveness, and very importantly the durability, of the Janssen vaccines is so significant, and I would continue to encourage people to sign up to take part in vaccine trials."
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